55 Colmore Row
Statement Victorian building lovingly repurposed into Grade A office
55 Colmore Row is the major redevelopment of a key historic building, in which we increased the net lettable space in the building by 16% to deliver prime Grade A office accommodation. We incorporated an additional floor level and replaced the Barwick Street elevation, as well as significantly remodelling the internal layout, including reusing the listed banking hall as the main reception space. The site had very specific challenges as it contained listed building elements and is located within a conservation area, close to other listed buildings.
Our architects and interior design team worked together to reinvigorate the space, by transforming the layout whilst sensitively preserving the historic fabric of the building. Winning BCO Refurbished/Recycled Workplace Award, the once dormant Grade II listed building is now a lively, dynamic office and a fantastic asset to the city.
Restoring a hidden gem
Throughout the design process, we carefully evaluated various options to ensure that the building’s viability in the Birmingham office market was maximised.
The building needed a major redevelopment to become a high-quality, flexible and attractive workspace, simultaneously conserving a piece of history.
We found the best way to guide this project through planning was to ‘get under the skin’ of the building. Through learning the history of the space and beginning to understand the impact it had on people, we developed a huge respect for the heritage of the site, which drove our ambitions for the project.
At the heart of the building is a superb Victorian banking hall designed by Yeoville Thomason. This masterpiece had been hidden away for decades, with all previous iterations of this building leaving the hall untouched, designing around it, rather than including it.
Our design not only restores and opens up this space but has transformed this hidden gem into the striking entrance this significant building deserves.
Banking Hall transformation
Using this space as a centrepiece for the office was particularly popular with English Heritage and the local community and it was the incorporation of this hall that garnered support from stakeholders, ultimately helping us attain consent.
Our re-design has restored the impressive, listed banking hall as the centrepiece of the development and as the main public reception space within the remodelled building. The banking hall was previously a hidden space within the building but is now accessible and visible from Colmore Row for all to enjoy.
Newly built city centre office space
This major redevelopment of a Victorian classical building incorporates an additional floor level and a replacement of the Barwick Street elevation.
net lettable space in the building
of rooftop terraces incorporated
ft2 newly built
Grade A office space
car parking spaces
cycle parking spaces
net to gross
plan efficiency of the building
Preserving and enhancing
By significantly changing the internal layout of the building, we improved the experience and quality of the office floor space.
We consolidated the lifts and toilet cores, each of which were in two separate groups, into a new vertical spine adjoining the retained and transformed atrium to the west of the banking hall. This rearrangement considerably improved ease of access and allowed more rational office floor plans at the upper levels.
The increase in floor space has predominantly been achieved by extending the existing 5th floor and creating a new office floor at the 6th floor level, previously occupied by a large plant room. The design of the new attic levels sympathetically responds to the elevation of the existing building and conservation area.
We incorporated floor to ceiling windows in the new Barwick Street elevation, which alongside the new layout, has drastically improved daylight levels in the building, making the office spaces a much more pleasant environment to work in. By creating a new light well, natural daylight and internal lighting penetrate down, providing an inviting quality of light and subtle emphasis to the entrance.
The new accessible rooftop terraces on the upper levels give staff outdoor amenity space and they can benefit from impressive views across Birmingham city centre.
Each floor of the offices has been arranged so that two individual tenancies can be accommodated, each with its own goods lift and firefighting shaft access.
DESIGN AND INNOVATION
Classical design with state-of-the-art efficiencies
The extension innovatively and sympathetically celebrates the existing listed facades.
Early versions of our roof extension designs aimed to demonstrate a distinct difference between modern architecture and the original Victorian facade.
Extensive engagement with the local community showed that the preferred option was a transitional approach that bridged the gap between old and new. So we adapted the design to soften the transition and impact of the extension.
We used stepped mansard roofs for the attic storeys, shaping the front edge of the top attic into a curve and setting the new plant room well back into the rear of the building.
To bring the office into the modern era, we needed to make considerable sustainability efficiencies. High-performance glass minimises heat loss and gain.
We incorporated a brown roof to encourage biodiversity and enhance the building’s environmental credentials, using ground rubble and wildflower seeds.
Seamless integration with surroundings
On Barwick Street, a new elevation seamlessly integrates with its surroundings and with floor to ceiling windows, increases natural light levels in the office space.
A building to stand the test of time
The building has been around for hundreds of years and we intend to continue this legacy long into the future. Quality natural materials have been used to provide longevity and a comprehensive low maintenance strategy has been developed for the scheme.
As we have reimagined the building to suit today’s needs, the adaptable layout can accommodate a variety of functions. Employment opportunities have increased with this high-quality office space attracting a modern workforce. From the atrium, there is space for food, drink and retail options, which supports the dynamic ambience of a contemporary workplace and animates the surrounding streets.
55 Colmore Row laid dormant for too long and our intervention breathes new life into the building for future generations to enjoy. The office is a creative design solution that sympathetically preserves the significant historical features of Colmore Row and cements Birmingham’s robust future as a world-class centre for the knowledge-based economy.
Birmingham, B3 2AS
Abstract Land (now Sterling Property)
Grade II listed building
Grade A office space
Winner - Regional Refurbished/Recycled Workplace Award
Shortlisted - National Refurbished/Recycled Workplace Award
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